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Celtics notebook

They pick and choose

The Celtics’ Shelden Williams is completely covered by Grizzlies Hasheem Thabeet (left) and Zach Randolph. The Celtics’ Shelden Williams is completely covered by Grizzlies Hasheem Thabeet (left) and Zach Randolph. (Jim Weber/Reuters)
By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / December 15, 2009

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MEMPHIS - The pick-and-roll is among the most basic of basketball maneuvers. But it is also difficult to defend, especially when Celtics Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are executing the play.

“It’s a tough pick-and-roll,’’ Pierce said, “because you’ve got a big guy [who’s] able to knock down shots. I’m able to knock down shots or drive off the pick and they got to make a decision whether to trap or switch. Then, if you trap you’ve got to rotate to Kevin, so it puts teams in a predicament down the stretch. It’s been a bread and butter play for us.’’

The play - also known as a pick-and-pop, Garnett becoming a perimeter threat - led to the Celtics’ final 7 points in a 110-105 win over the Grizzlies last night.

The final points, a Ray Allen 3-pointer, resulted from a broken play, but the Celtics’ poise carried them in the end.

“We just put ourselves in a situation where everybody - Paul might have the ball, [Rajon] Rondo might have the ball, sometimes I might have the ball,’’ Allen said. “We know what we’re looking for - 2 points, it doesn’t matter what position, we’re so interchangeable. We just do whatever we can to get those 2 points and get some stops, defensively.’’

Said Pierce: “We’re not trying to make it a dogfight. I mean, we’re trying to get the win off everybody. But there’s going to be some nights tougher than others. At the tail end of a road trip, this is where you can be mentally fatigued and ready to go home. But this team is a road warrior-type of team and we know what it takes to get that last game on the road trip before we go back home. We were able to find a way.

“We’re a seasoned team. No matter what we get down, we expect to win. We’ve been in many battles together, this starting five, and we expect to win. Going into a close game and knowing, on the road, in these situations - we’re battle-tested, so we don’t panic, we play together, we’re tough to beat, and I think we’re our own worst enemy. I think when we go out and play the right way we pull out these games.’’

No place like home
Lester Hudson had one of his finest collegiate games while playing for the University of Tennessee-Martin at the FedEx Forum two years ago.

Hudson, who collected more than 50 tickets for family and friends, did not get off the Celtics’ bench last night. In his only FedEx appearance, he delivered a 35-point, 10-rebound performance as Tennessee-Martin lost, 102-71, to Memphis.

Hudson, who grew up in Memphis, was matched up that night against Derrick Rose, now the starting point guard for the Chicago Bulls.

“[Hudson] has NBA talent, he’s going to be an NBA player,’’ coach Doc Rivers said. “He’s on a very good team where it’s difficult to get minutes but that hasn’t sidetracked his work.’’

Rivers said Hudson will be sent to the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League “just to get him some games. I don’t like our young guys to go on these stretches without playing games. We’re going to bring him back but I think that will help him.’’

“I always thought I would make the NBA,’’ said Hudson. “I had a lot of confidence. Now that I’m here I’ve just got to stay here and keep working hard.’’

Passing fancy
The Celtics shot 52.5 percent from the field last night. They were leading the league in field goal percentage (.494) before the game.

“We’re just passing to the open guy, we’re not doing anything special,’’ Rivers said. “We’re setting picks, finally. We’re doing a great job of that over the last 10-15 games. And that was something I thought -- “We were all slipping our picks trying to get to the spot, instead of doing their job first and setting the picks. And our bigs and everybody setting the picks are finding out they’re the guy open - because if you set a good pick the defense has to help.’’

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at fdellapa@globe.com.

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